Race and politics…

first_img…at GECOM and GovernmentBack in 1975, Cheddi Jagan rather controversially decided that rather than opposing the PNC, which had rigged the 1973 elections while murdering two PPP activists, the PPP were going to give “critical support” to the PNC Government. By the end of the following year, having supported the PNC in the nationalisation of the sugar industry, Jagan opened talks with the PNC for closer collaboration.One of the subjects he raised with Burnham was “racial discrimination” against Indian Guyanese by the PNC in Government, and the 80% of the economy it had nationalised. Burnham laughingly dismissed Jagan’s contention, and said, “It’s political, comrade, not racial”!! Jagan’s retort, of course, in a country where people voted down the line along racial lines, should’ve been that Burnham’s contention was a distinction in search of a difference!! The effect would be the same!!Today, we see something similar playing out in the GECOM hiring practices in general, and the choice of the GECOM CEO in particular. By and large, “Africans” and “Mixed” race in Guyana tend to support the PNC, and Indians tend to support the PPP. “Tend to”…so obviously, there will be the exceptions to prove the rule. But unlike Burnham, the present PNC lot can’t even be candid and say they have nothing against Indians per se…but they do tend to support the PPP. It’s political, baby!!So if something comes up in GECOM, where a decision may impact on voting results, Indians might TEND to take a PPP slant. And the same for African/Mixed Guyanese in GECOM right now. We shouldn’t have to shy away from saying it like it is…when every Tom, Dick and Harrilall out there knows the truth. Who do we think we’re foolin’? But the PNC makes a good point when they point out the composition at GECOM is pretty much the same as it was when they were in Government.What they don’t say is the PPP never interfered with GECOM’s hiring practices, not only because it was an autonomous agency, but like in every sector of the state institutions, they were caught in a double bind. If they’d objected to hiring practices that favoured African Guyanese, they’d be accused of being racial!! Like at present!! But the PPP also probably thought it didn’t matter, since they had that majority since 1992. 2011 had to’ve been a wake-up call…but by then it was too late!!But this PNC just doesn’t give a damn – as is shown by its choice of a Dep CEO who’s always been openly PNC.And to gild their lily, just look at the hatchet job the Chronic’s doing on the incumbent!!…and the Education MinisterA columnist and frequent letter writer wondered “Why Ms. Henry chose to sensationalise the status of 11 Bangladeshis” who might have “jumped plane” here, and not about the thousands of Cubans and Haitians that did the same. He expatiated at length about “absolute change vs. relative change” and implied it might be due to her being a bit slow on the uptake.Now this is not only being patently unfair to a woman who’s about to complete her PhD, but shows the columnist doesn’t want to call a spade a spade. It has nothing to do with “stupidity”, and everything to do with “race and politics”!Minister of Education Henry knows fully well to invoke “Bangladeshis” is to signal to the PNC’s supporters that the PPP’s Indian base might be getting augmented! Man the barricades!!! Never mind that Bangladeshis would resist to the point of death being dubbed “Indians”!!But who cares about these distinctions when one wants to score cheap political points?? Not this PNC lot!!…and Battle of the MallsYour Eyewitness notices, with dismay, the Indian Guyanese owner of one Mall complaining about concessions a Chinese Guyanese owner received under the PPP Government for his new Mall going up.Does this refute charges of PPP’s “bias”?last_img

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